Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Getting my bearings

To start, a bit of disclosure. I wrote my initial entry, posted April 24, on the Saturday night before Jack’s Tuesday birthday. And while I did cite a scripture passage from the April 24 lectionary, I had my own thoughts on what to write before I looked into the selected passages. Ideally the writings here will be more of a reflection on a passage and how it speaks to me as a father, but I guess that won’t always be the case. And if the posts are going to come with any regularity, they’ll probably need to be written somewhat in advance, though the scripture referenced will be for the appropriate calendar day as per my lectionary source (which, incidentally, is the two-year daily lectionary of the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship).

Furthermore, while I would like to move on to more general topics, as I sit down to write on Jack’s actual birthday, I remain struck by the significance of the day — the anniversary of becoming a parent. The gorgeous spring weather today makes it easy to be grateful for creation and the Creator, and the fact it’s Jack’s birthday underscores what a gift I’ve been given, not just of my own life but also the creation of my family — and also the tremendous responsibility of parenthood.

As part of our small group engaging in the church-wide study of the Unbinding Your Heart book during Lent, I got into the welcome habit of praying as I walk to the bus stop every morning. Usually Jack is out the door at least few seconds ahead of me, and he prefers to cut through the neighbor’s yard, so it’s a fairly solitary, if brief, experience. But there is something about stepping outside into the morning sun that invites a person of faith to be thankful. Likewise, there is something about changing the toddler’s diaper and preparing breakfast for the preschooler before watching the second-grader bound out the door for a day away from his parents and family to make me aware of how little time I have to be a primary influence for my kids.

School is not easy for Jack, and it never has been. It’s not the academic stuff, it’s the life stuff. Without getting too deep into it now, suffice it to say I feel a hair better each morning taking the time to pray over him as the bus rolls down the street. And on the occasion of his birthday, especially, the “big picture” concepts came straight to mind, thoughts of what it will take to get us the next decade from 8 to 18, from second grade to the cusp of high school graduation. There are many things I want for my boys, but I also realize there are many things I need to have in order to help my boys grow and mature the way I know they can.

I hinted at this notion a bit in the newspaper column I wrote for Jack’s birthday (between that and the photo slideshow I end up making a lot of work for myself every April, but I’m certainly glad I have made the effort) and my prayer for April 25 reflects a bit of expansion on the topic. Still, I’ve kept it on the short side, which perhaps reflects more of my editor’s personality than my individual spirituality. But I’m new at this prayer blog thing, so please excuse me while I find my footing.
Psalm 147:8-11 (NIV)

He covers the sky with clouds;
   he supplies the earth with rain
   and makes grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle
   and for the young ravens when they call.
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
   nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
the LORD delights in those who fear him,
   who put their hope in his unfailing love.
A prayer for April 25:

Please help me to be the father my boys need. Grant me patience to deal with their emotions. Grant me the tolerance to accept their choices. Grant me the strength to offer them guidance. Grant me the wisdom to know when to step back. Grant us all the grace to forgive each other when we fall short. And endow us with the perspective to appreciate and understand our blessings, that we may in turn be a blessing to others. Amen.

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